India is perhaps the only country on this planet where teachers are worshipped as gods. Not as someones who are second to gods, but as real gods. And even as those who are more exalted than gods themselves.
It is sad that Indian universities find it difficult to make it to any top 100 world ranking in modern times.
This, when there was a time when India was the only country which had so many universities where people from all parts of the world came to study.
A country that had Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramshila as universities in its history repertoire, finds it hard to find a mention in the current ranking list of universities. We can only imagine the scale of destruction colonial history has perpetrated on this land.
Today, education in India is in tatters. The traditional system of teaching and disseminating knowledge has been destroyed by the hordes of invaders and colonisers that descended upon this country. Libraries were burnt and scholars, teachers, researchers brutally killed. Universities were demolished and traditional systems and infrastructure were destroyed.
Even today, our education system is being controlled by the same colonial mindset and the same line of colonial thinking. Our textbooks are full of self-hate and self-deprecation adding very little to whatever was left over by the British education-manipulators.
Despite all this, India has been able to preserve some of its rich culture thanks to its grassroot traditions sheltered in the innards of its villages. Even the remnants of those traditions show how advanced and refined the culture and legacy this land had and how destructive and cruel the invaders have been on the native knowledge system.
Think of it. The USA started with a National Teacher Day only in 1980. And it was only four years later that its National Education Association started honouring teachers with one week instead of one day. And the day is still being promoted.
The new USA President Joe Biden announced only last April 30 that National Teacher Appreciation Day should be celebrated on May 4 each year, while the National Teacher Appreciation Week should be celebrated from May 2 to 8.
USA tops in education and is way ahead of any other country of the world in the area of education and the culture of education and research.
However, it did not have a Teachers’ Day till recently.
They have had no tradition of bowing to their gurus. They have just started what we have been following for centuries.
Indians may not attach any importance to this small byte of info, however the fact that we have had this tradition of respecting our Gurus since time immemorial proves how far we could have reached on the path of knowledge.
Most Indic religions, cultures and traditions are founded on the premise that Guru is the fountain of all knowledge.
It is not for nothing that our dharma is rooted in the wisdom flowing from innumerable gurus through ages.
The fact that we value our gurus so much also shows how valuable knowledge has been in our culture.
Our entire dharma pranali is nothing but a continuous compendium of human knowledge and experience.
And it is never static and final. It is always a work in progress.
Innumerable gurus have enriched our knowledge systems and they continue to do so.
We, as ordinary individuals, need to strive to preserve human knowledge, strengthen our knowledge systems and do our best to disseminate and enrich the flow of knowledge.
We have had some great gurus in the past. We still have some stellar gurus present all around us. We only need to find one suitable for ourselves. And we have an ocean of knowledge before us inviting us to take a dip.
Bowing before our Gurus and exploring the best gems from the ocean of knowledge with their help should be our ultimate aim.